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647: Christ the King, Salfords, Surrey, England
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Mystery Worshipper: Sarum Sleuth.
The church: Christ the King, Salfords, Surrey, England.
Denomination: Anglican.
The building: Economical 1960s, which from the outside seems to be more roof than anything else. It is rather better inside and has not dated as badly as many churches of this period. Bright red electric heaters hang from the ceiling everywhere: it was certainly one of the warmest churches I have ever been in!
The church: Although the congregation tonight was small, there seem to be a reasonable cross-section of the local community present.
The neighbourhood: A not terribly exciting suburban area only a few miles from Gatwick Airport.
The cast: The celebrant was the Rev. Frances Plummer. The preacher was the Vicar, the Rev. Stephen Caple.
What was the name of the service?
Solemn mass for All Saints day.

How full was the building?
The congregation of 11 was pretty sparse, although there were six in the choir, four servers and two clergy. Having said this, the weather was unpleasant. I understand they usually get around 60 people on Sundays.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was welcomed with a smile along with the service books. At the peace I managed to shake hands with everyone in the church!

Was your pew comfortable?
Excruciatingly uncomfortable, despite being reasonably modern. There were Bibles in the pews, the first time I have ever come across this practice in an Anglo-Catholic church.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Pretty quiet, although I could just hear the sidespeople discussing something relevant to what they were doing.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father..."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Locally produced mass book: basically Common Worship, Order 1, with a few Roman interpolations, and the New English Hymnal.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ. The choir used an exceptionally nasty setting by William Mathias that really grated.

Did anything distract you?
I don't know what it is about GSS medals that makes the wearer fuss. The MC was certainly hyperactive. Halfway through a reading I noticed a large cut-out of Noah's Ark along the north wall which seemed to owe much of its parentage to the Disney corporation.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Minimalist modern catholic, with servers in hooded cassock-albs and the principal celebrant in a chasuble that looked as though it was designed for Lenten use. All pretty restrained, although the offertory censings got a little too fussy for my taste. There was very little that a Dearmerite fundamentalist like me could really object to.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
7 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 – His style was quiet, and perhaps the sermon would have been better if it had ended a little sooner, given the fact that the final minute was mostly repetition.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
We see glimpses of heaven through the lives of the saints on earth, known and unknown.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The general lack of fuss at the altar.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
That wretched setting.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Both clergy introduced themselves, and a friend of mine introduced me to a couple of regulars before we headed to the pub.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was none as there was to be a vigil of prayer immediately after the service.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – Slightly too Roman for my taste, but certainly friendly, and rather better done than many Anglo-Catholic churches.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The fidgety MC.
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